Is your rescue group planning to appear at the Million Paws Walk?

April 28, 2017

Is your rescue group planning to appear at the Million Paws Walk? 

A lot of groups do, for many reasons; a large audience of pet lovers, the chance to be seen as legitimate alongside a well-known brand like the RSPCA, and many, because the RSPCA release pets to them so they feel like they have a ‘good working relationship’ so why would you not take the opportunity?

Meanwhile the RSPCA is gifted the opportunity to stand up in the public space and say – See, we’re the good guys. No one WANTS to kill pets. And we have a great relationship with the community, so any killing MUST be the public’s fault. Look! We’re all on the same team, and having rescue groups here proves it.

Rescuers love the exposure and feeling like they’re making friends in high places. The RSPCA get to keep on Walking.

But how's it working out for pets?

Having rescues onside – those groups who are often the most knowledgeable and potentially dangerous to the status quo when advocating on behalf of pets – allows the RSPCA to maintains the status quo of ‘save the ones why want to, kill the rest’.

Despite often claiming the RSPCA has a great working relationship with rescue, according to the published figures in 2015/16,

of the 27,490 dogs left unclaimed at the RSPCA nationally,
just 1,931 were passed on to rescue groups.
(Compared to 5,872 that were killed)

and of the 52,976 cats left unclaimed at the RSPCA,
just 925 were passed on to rescue groups.
(Compared to 16,205 that were killed)

That's not to say that rescue should be taking the pets from the RSPCA - there is no reason why a $100 million dollar a year charity should be relying on rescue groups to do their work for them, for free. However, the notion that rescue groups are being embraced to save lives by the RSPCA in any significant way, simply isn't the case.

Meanwhile, over 22,000 pets will lose their lives - most unnecessarily - because the RSPCA still refuses to acknowledge that no kill is neither desirable, nor possible.

So what does the RSPCA really think of rescue groups?

More worryingly than even just the lack of real interaction between rescue (community pet lovers) and the RSPCA is the fact that the RSPCA has this month come out swinging at groups who are working in a no kill capacity stating that they are in fact "... fooling the public..." stealing funds away from the more deserving RSPCA branches and - and I'm not even kidding - are working "... to the detriment of animals...". 

While maintaining we should 'all work together' the RSPCA is working hard to discredit groups it sees as competitors stealing their charity dollar.

An RSPCA spokesman said these cases (faux charity groups) were commonplace in Queensland.

"These people can basically be described as hoarders, not a proper charity,” he said.

"Unfortunately it's a fairly regular occurrence; you get them maybe once every three months or so where we'll go to a major hoarding case. 

"If it's a registered charity it's a different story, but sadly anyone can set up a gofundme page or a semi-rescue organisation and nothing can stop them from asking for money.”

Million Paws Walk 2017 media - Caboolture News

A "semi-rescue" organisation? Would that be the rescuers working without large, multi-million dollar facilities, without formalised, multi-person fundraising departments and relying on crowdfunding to feed the animals they have in their homes? 

While it might feel temporarily good to have the RSPCA blow some smoke up your rescue group's ego, it's worth remembering that the RSPCA as an organisation can continue to collect pound tenders, close and sell local facilities, and block access to pets by rescuers as they so desire. They can even go into the public arena, and join government advisory panels, assert that rescuers are ‘hoarders’ and work to develop laws which make it harder and harder for groups to operate… and guess what? They have done ALL of these things while simultaneously telling the public they have an excellent working relationship with rescue, and with rescue attending their events and helping them keep their brand sparkling and bright.

Don’t worry though; they’ll throw you a few pets here and there to keep you sweet (conditional access, obviously).

If you walk in the Walk, or join an RSPCA event as a rescue group partner, you just rubber stamped the current animal sheltering system provided by the RSPCA as the animal sheltering system our pets should be being provided with. You allow them to maintain their monopoly on the decisions in the animal welfare industry and handed away your power to stand up for the fair treatment of our pets, instead granting the RSPCA permission for another twelve months of community-sponsored killing.

There will always be a place for rescue groups willing to turn a blind eye and play ball, at the Million Paws Walk. 

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